Buying A Racing Drone – The Good, The Bad, The Exciting
Flying a drone at speeds of up to 100 mph around a technical course sounds exciting and cool, but small, tough, agile, high-speed machines with FPV cameras and goggles aren’t that easy to handle. There are many levels of drone racing, and professionals sometimes end up taking home million dollar prizes – how about that for motivation? I guess getting started is the most difficult, and it pays to learn what it takes to fly before you head out.
You don’t make the law, as cool as that may sound. Wherever you may be, it would. be a good idea to research the local legislation and obey it. In the US, the FAA governs outdoor flight, which means you are free to fly indoors without registration.
Should you buy a drone or build your very own? That’s a tough one, as there are plenty ready-to-fly quadcopters out there. However, you should now that professionals usually invest serious amounts of money into their equipment, while others have meticulously built their drones with their own hands. Either way, you will have to get your hands dirty, at least a bit.
Goggles – Yay or Nay?
Sure, your Parrot drone packs a set of VR goggles, but that doesn’t make the drone race-worthy. At high speeds, there is no room for error or latency, which is why nothing but the best will do. Fat Shark is a player worth your consideration, although goggles from Zeiss, HeadPlay, and Skyzone are also worth a look. As mentioned, at 100 mph, the video feed must be near instant; $250 will get you started, but $500 and up is what you’ll likely end up paying.
Always keep a spare
Crashing is never the intention, but it happens to the best of us. As such, it might be a good idea to always be prepared for a repair session. Having at least two of everything is a good place to start – frame, propellers, batteries; even the complete drone. It sounds complicated and possibly expensive, but this is how the game is played.
It goes without saying that putting cheap drones through their paces is the way to get started. Buy a $30 toy, crash it, learn, get better, crash again and repeat. There are also many emulators around that let you try before you fly, but that’s a completely different story.
I’m guessing that at least one thing has become painfully obvious by now, which is whit: it is all you at the controls, sans any assistance or aiding systems meant to keep the flying machine in one piece or make it return home at the touch of a button. You’d better know what you are doing!